FROM: Winnie Doyle, Interim President, St. Joseph’s Health System
David Wormald, President, St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre Brantford
IN RESPONSE TO THE SASKATCHEWAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL TRAGEDY
We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the discovery of 751 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. Our hearts go out to the families and survivors of the Cowessess First Nation, and to Indigenous communities across Canada.
We consider this in the context of the horrific discovery last month announced by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential Schools. Tragically, thousands of children died while in residential schools, as has been reported in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, released in 2015. We are likely to hear more in future days and months, and we will need to find ways to be strong allies to our Indigenous peoples, to collectively work toward a positive future between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
We have once again lowered our flags at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre Brantford and they will remain lowered until Monday, July 5, to honour the memory of these children. It is one step in recognition of this tragedy.
A second step is to become educated about this issue, and other aspects of Indigenous history, to build understanding, to build connections, and to take a step toward building a path forward. Here in Brantford, living next door to Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and working alongside Indigenous people provides us with a wonderful opportunity to learn directly from our Indigenous colleagues and neighbours.
Below are resources to become better informed, in addition to supports which are available for those most affected by this tragedy. We encourage everyone to learn more, and to seek support as needed.
Learn about Indigenous knowledge, experiences, and perspectives by participating in the Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series, by visiting Woodland Cultural Centre, 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford, and by participating in Six Nations cultural events and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation cultural events.
· Learn more about our country’s treatment of Indigenous people. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies offers a free online course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
· Read the letter to the Prime Minister from Chief Mark B. Hill, Six Nations of the Grand River.
This distressing news may have triggered re-traumatization for many. If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. Supports available include:
· The Hope for Wellness Help Line, which offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada at 1-855-242-3310.
· A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
· Six Nations Crisis Line: 519-445-2204
We encourage everyone to reflect on the significance of this discovery, and to reach out to those who are impacted.
On June 30th, a number of radio stations across Canada , including CBC Radio will be broadcasting A DAY TO LISTEN, in recognition of National Indigenous History Month. This will be an unprecedented collaboration to amplify, elevate, listen to, and learn from Indigenous voices. I
Please take good care of yourselves and each other.